Infrastructure planning. How will it work? How can I have ... - Gov.UK



Infrastructure planning

How will it work? How can I have my say?

The new planning process for key


The 2008 Planning Act introduces a new simpler planning system

for applications to build nationally significant infrastructure facilities

in England and Wales. The new system will cover applications

for major energy generation, railways, ports, major roads, airports

and water and waste infrastructure. Smaller infrastructure projects

which fall below the thresholds set out in the Act, and other

developments such as housing or retail, will continue to be dealt

with under the existing planning systems.

The old planning process for considering these infrastructure

applications was slow and complex with projects often needing

multiple approvals. The new system will make the process faster,

fairer and easier for people to get involved.

Under the new system, national policy will be set out in a series of

new National Policy Statements (NPSs). These will be finalised by

the Government after appraisal of their sustainability, followed by

public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny.

Infrastructure planning

Once NPSs are in place a new independent body, the Infrastructure

Planning Commission (IPC), will examine and decide applications

for new infrastructure development, using the criteria on national

need, benefits and impacts set out in the NPSs, and consideration

of evidence put forward on potential local effects.

and cross-border oil and gas pipelines into Scotland. In Wales the new system will only apply to

ports and energy applications.

Why is a new system needed?

The new regime that we are establishing will enable us to make

decisions about nationally significant infrastructure in a way that

is fairer and faster. This is vital to our economic, environmental

and social wellbeing, including meeting the challenge of climate

change, strengthening the voice of communities and creating the

conditions for future economic success.

Over the next 20 years we need to replace around a third of our

existing electricity generation capacity. Unless we make much

greater use of renewable energy we will struggle to reduce carbon

emissions, which we have committed to doing as part of tackling

climate change.

At the same time we need to improve our transport facilities –

railways, ports, roads and airports – and water and waste facilities.

We need to do this in a way which takes account of the interests of

local communities and the importance of protecting and enhancing

the environment.

Currently it can take far too long to reach decisions on planning

applications for nationally significant infrastructure developments.

Under the new process we expect the time taken from application

to decision to be under a year in the majority of cases. This is

expected to save the UK up to £300m a year.

Infrastructure planning

How will it work?

The IPC will operate a one-stop development consent process for

nationally significant infrastructure projects.

The IPC will decide whether to grant consent on the basis of the

policies set out in the NPSs, taking into account domestic and

European law, reports from affected local authorities, and evidence

put forward by local communities and other interested parties

during examination. In making its decision the IPC will weigh up the

benefits and adverse impacts of the application. The IPC will have to

give detailed reasons for its decisions and can be challenged in the

courts if people think it has acted unreasonably.

The new process will provide clearer and better opportunities for

the public and local communities to get involved from an early

stage in decisions that will affect them (for more information see

the website address at the end of this leaflet). There will now be

three opportunities for individuals and groups to have their say.

They are:

Infrastructure planning

during the public consultations on the draft NPSs

when applications are being prepared for submission to the

IPC – at this stage developers are required to consult with local

communities about what they plan to do, and

• during the IPC’s examination of applications – when individuals

and groups can submit evidence in writing as well as in person

at open-floor hearings held by the IPC.

What is in a National Policy

Statement? What makes them so


Public consultations on draft NPSs will provide an opportunity for

debate on the national need for the various types of infrastructure

– rather than repeating this when each large infrastructure

application is considered by the IPC. Once a finalised NPS is in place,

the IPC will focus on the issues related to that particular planning

application rather than the wider issues of need.

Setting the policy framework

Opportunities for

the public to

have their say



on draft NPS






Determining individual applications



by promoter









Infrastructure planning

There will be NPSs for the following types of infrastructure:


• Nuclear power stations

• Renewables – electricity generation (e.g. wind farms)

• Electricity networks (i.e. power lines etc.)

• Fossil fuel – electricity generation (e.g. gas and coal power


• Oil and gas infrastructure (e.g. pipelines and storage)


• Ports

• National networks (i.e. strategic roads and railways, including

strategic rail freight interchanges)

• Airports

Water and waste

• Waste water (e.g. sewage treatment infrastructure)

• Hazardous waste (e.g. high temperature incineration)

• Water supply (e.g. reservoirs)

Infrastructure planning

NPSs will establish the national need and set out policy for

infrastructure; explain how they take account of the Government’s

relevant social, economic and environmental policies; and show

how they contribute to tackling climate change. Each draft NPS

will be subject to an appraisal of its sustainability, there will be

the opportunity for members of the public to have their say, and

Parliament will scrutinise them before they are finalised.

NPSs that cover new nuclear power stations and airport

development will include more specific direction for the IPC

on where those developments might be built. Where potential

locations for these developments are named in NPSs, there will be

local consultation with the communities that may be affected.

Infrastructure planning

How can I get involved?

Your first chance to get involved is when the draft National Policy

Statements are published – it is important to take this opportunity

to think about what national infrastructure we need and make your

views known. Once the NPS is finalised it will provide the framework

in which the IPC will take decisions on individual applications.

The activities involved for each consultation will vary depending on

the subject of the NPS but all consultations will include appropriate

opportunities for public involvement.

The various NPS consultations will be taking place in stages

during 2009–11. To find out more details on when they are

taking place and how to comment please visit

Infrastructure planning

If you require further independent

advice please contact Planning Aid –

an organisation which provides free,

independent professional planning advice for individuals and

groups that cannot afford to pay professional fees – on

(0121) 214 2915 or

To contact Planning Aid for London please


or call (020) 7247 4900

© Crown Copyright 2009. ISBN 978-1-4098-1785-7. Printed in Great Britain

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